Gargantia ep11: the hammer of enlightenment
It’s pretty easy to point blame here. The progression of events in this episode is smooth and deceptively quick. All in the span of twenty minutes we see power and freedom turned into submission and slavery. And even more puzzling, we see Pinion actually show some good judgment! What?
So the time of reckoning is at hand for the show. All the good feels, the smooth atmosphere, the talk of family and camaraderie is being put to the test from this point on in the series. Ledo’s commander Commander Kugel has arrived on the scene. And Ledo is more than happy to see a familiar face and fall in line.
While he floats over to Kugel’s fleet of creepy druids, Pinion is busy showing his ass. Looking on at the fleet, he decides to try to intimidate them with a display from their new cannon. That was “no bueno”, because Kugel just fired right back with a much more laser from his machine. This little display clearly illustrates how badly outmatched Pinion’s fleet is, and shows that they’ve lost even before negotiations.
With Pinion making a fool of himself, Ledo is invited to meet Kugel, who actually shows up in hologram form at a table. His explanation is that he has a disease that requires him to remain in the sterile environment of the cockpit. This could explain his views of life on this planet, but i’ll get to that later. Most importantly in their conversation, he shows Ledo that he’s taken initiative and has a goal. He plans to bring order to the planet. Order in the form of the Galactic Alliance style of society, complete with military protocols and rationing based on job skills. And of course Ledo is OK with it, it’s all he’s ever known. But you can see that there’s some hesitancy in him.
Back to our idiot pal Pinion, Kugel’s fleet has sent his a request to speak with their representative. And despite Flange being someone with a good head on his shoulders, it ends up making more sense for Pinion to go. Besides, the other fleet already recognized him as a rep anyway. It’s then that we get the wonderful surprise of seeing our old and still popular pirate friends make an appearance. Looks like they got scooped up, too. Though how they managed to get around in that fleet and not get their faces painted is beyond me. Whatever, hot sexy pirate boobs make me happy, so let’s move on.
The pirate queen ends up being his defacto guide, and leads him to a room with a couch and a cube and tools. Once Pinion tinkers with it enough to get it open, Kugel’s machine appears. Its name is Stryker, and “she” (because of the female voice) tells Pinion that his skills are commendable and useful. In essence, the negotiations boil down to Pinion surrendering his fleet in exchange for their complete safety. He’ll also be given a chief engineering role amonst the Kugel fleet. It’s a pretty fair deal, but as we learn in this episode, fair can be incredibly harsh.
The Kugel fleet wastes no time coming over to Pinion’s and subjugating the people on board. To their dismay, they’ll be given safety, but they won’t be able to stay together. In the interest of efficiency, they’ll be broken up into relevant parts. If there was any thoughts of dissent, they were quickly squashed by the guns the zealots were carrying. Back amongst Kugel’s fleet, the Pirate Boob Queen is giving Pinion the tour. He sees how the people kind of live these sad and gray lives. It seems there isn’t much room for fun or individuality in the fleet.
The final stop of the episode leads us to Ledo’s cockpit, where we see Chamber testing him for the virus Kugel suffers from. He’s clean, but Ledo gets some perspective on Kugel’s view of the world. Kugel only see the world through the tiny cockpit of his mech. He’s detached and aloof from the humanity he’s communicating with, and is pure Galactic Alliance. Ledo is much different and you can tell that he’s changed from the robot he was at the beginning of the series to now. And that was all thanks to his time on the Gargantia. The Gargantia that Kugel tells him they’ll have to subdue next.
Oh Gargantia, all I ask for is a little subtlety.
There a plenty of important points in this episode. Though the most important point is that Gargantia is directly juxtaposing the life we saw on Gargantia, the life that influenced Ledo, with the life we see on ships in Kugel’s fleet. All the complaints I’ve seen from other viewers in regards to the show’s pacing and focus on slice-of-life aspects, well we see now why it was such a focus. Gargantia focused on humanity, a humanity that coexisted with the Hideauze and limited technology just fine. The fleet that now approaches it is cold, and robotic. Those superstitious tendencies of the people now native to this Earth have been twisted into worship for Kugel and his machine. So while at first I really wanted to believe that Kugel had the best intentions of the Earthlings he met in mind (and he may), it’s clear that the Galactic Alliance style of life has returned to this show to be its antagonist. And I suppose this should have been expected by most. The space hideauze wouldn’t make the greatest nemesis. And I fear that if they did return to the story, it would lead to a bad ending. If the entire Galactic Alliance military could not stop them, then there’s nothing on Earth that can.
And speaking of those space hideauze, it looks like Kugel has taken the same stance on them that I have. They are very much former humans. When Ledo goes to tell Kugel of his discovery of the hideauze’s origins, Kugel is quite matter of fact about the situation. It seems that despite the ages of fighting, the leaders of the Alliance never lost track of the hideauze’s origins. It seems that there’s not an ounce of naivety within this man.
I have to say that this show may be a tad predictable for those of us who have seen enough anime, or sci-fi, but it remains interesting. There are still good questions being asked here. And “what makes someone human” seems to be the most interesting one. Toss aside the sci-fi mumbo-jumbo for a second, and you’ll see that this is very much a story of the best and worst of humanity. Now it’s just a matter of which side wins out.